For months, many organizations on campus struggled to adapt their social events virtually as strict social distancing guidelines were implemented on campus, and NC State’s GLBT Center was no different. Last spring and summer, the GLBT Center kept its virtual activities lowkey, as a way to keep students connected in a time where the center was largely closed off to the public.
But now, over a year of experience with virtual outreach, the GLBT Center is looking for students to submit cheerful videos through FlipGrid — a socially distant way to celebrate Pride as COVID-19 cases continue to drop during the summer, said Andy DeRoin, assistant director at the GLBT Center.
“It’s mostly used in classrooms, but it’s a service where you can record a video response to a prompt,” DeRoin said. “And we were like ‘What if this was a way that we could create community and help people share their stories?’ so that was kind of what led to wanting to do something for Pride month and FlipGrid specifically.”
FlipGrid is a video-sharing platform, where users can upload videos for a moderator to compile the individual uploads into a single video presentation. DeRoin said, while the platform is usually used for educational purposes in a similar vein to Kahoot, the Center’s had some previous successes with the platform in the past. This year’s Lavender Graduation, an annual celebration congratulating LGBTQ+ students graduating from NC State, used FlipGrid as a way for participating students to share their stories before saying goodbye to the Wolfpack.
“Once you log in, you just basically click record and it’ll basically use whatever device you’re using, and then you can review your video before you submit,” DeRoin said. “You can also add frames, you can add stickers and depending on how you plan it in advance, you can do a dance, sing a song, whatever feels good for you, and then you click submit.”
The GLBT Center usually celebrates Pride month not in June, but in September — a far cry from the summertime parades and celebrations happening across the state and country. According to DeRoin, this is primarily in conjunction with Durham’s local Pride celebration, which initially began as a march decrying a hate crime in 1981. Now, Durham Pride is the oldest and one of the most popular Pride celebrations in North Carolina, with the GLBT Center boasting its own tent during 2019’s march.
DeRoin said celebrating Pride in September and October is also much more accessible than June, with more students being near or on campus during the fall semester than the summer.
“One thing that students have been asking for is some sort of event or acknowledgement from NC State for Pride month in June, which we’ve looked at it before as something that not a lot of students are around for,” DeRoin said. “But COVID has really caused us to, as with everyone, to rethink how distance impacts stuff.”
As for now, DeRoin said that while the GLBT Center’s FlipGrid page has received hundreds of views, videos have yet to be submitted for review. With June nearing its end, DeRoin said they hope NC State students will begin submitting their stories soon.
“We would love to have people,” DeRoin said. “Ideally they would be connected to NC State in some way, but I think our questions are applicable across communities, so if folks wanna respond, as long as their response isn’t inappropriate in some way, I will click the ‘Yes’ button on it.”